Friday Tab Dump: Feb. 9 2018

Friday tab dump

Why paper jams persist {new yorker}

“A trivial problem reveals the limits of technology.”

Amazon and healthcare {exponent podcast}

Ben and James breakdown the possible outcomes of Amazon’s recent announcement that they’re getting into healthcare. Highly recommended for anyone trying to understand Amazon and its effects.

An updated lead-crime roundup for 2018 {mother jones}

I always thought this was a super interesting hypothesis but never read up on it.

Worries grow that the price of Bitcoin is being propped up {new york times}

My investment advice: Max out your IRAs, people.

Intel made smart glasses that look normal {the verge}

Loved learning more about the design priorities of this project.

How automation could worsen racial inequality {the atlantic}

I learned a lot from this piece. Important stuff.

 

Friday Tab Dump: Feb. 2 2018

Friday tab dump

Toward a constructive technology criticism {columbia journalism review}

I’m still processing everything in this piece but it summarizes a lot of things I’ve been thinking about over the past couple years. An excerpt:

“A critic of literature examines a work, analyzing its features, evaluating its qualities, seeking a deeper appreciation that might be useful to other readers of the same text. In a similar way, critics of music, theater, and the arts have a valuable, well-established role, serving as a helpful bridge between artists and audiences. Criticism of technology, however, is not yet afforded the same glad welcome.”

Craft beer is the strangest, happiest economic story in America {the atlantic}

Amen.

#878: Ta-Nehisi Coates {wtf podcast}

Great talk.

#138: A moat too far {exponent podcast}

“Ben Thompson and James Allworth discuss Amazon Go and what it says about the economics of tech and how Amazon is building multiple monopolies.”

 

3 reasons to ditch Uber (AND Lyft) and take a yellow cab instead

taxi

In 2017, progressive-minded people learned that if they wish to support transportation businesses that align with their values, they should hail a ride using Lyft instead of Uber.

Why? Well, there’s the gross stuffs, the privacy stuff, and the illegal stuffs.

Eek. Bad stuff.

But if a progressive were to choose a form of transportation that aligns with their values, they wouldn’t use Uber OR Lyft. They’d take a freaking yellow cab.

Here’s why:

1. Cost

Let’s start with the best one. If you fell in love with Uber’s low prices, I urge you to check your favorite Silicon Valley-backed ride-hailing app against the fare estimate in Curb, the app for yellow cabs in many cities. In my (admittedly limited) experience, the fares given in Curb are significantly lower than Uber/Lyft, especially when surge pricing is in effect.

2. Sustainability

When Uber/Lyft are cheaper, it’s because your ride is effectively being subsidized by venture-capital firms. Here’s an article about this {bloomberg} and some tweets:

3. Labor

If progressives truly support fair labor laws, unionization, and a living wage, they shouldn’t support Uber/Lyft, both of which are in the business of undermining those very laws and institutions.

Conclusion

I’m not saying everything is perfect about yellow cabs. There’s the medallion thing and the once-frequent refusal of many drivers to accept credit cards (which is now irrelevant thanks to Curb). But you’re kidding yourself if you think Uber/Lyft are making the world a better place or making the transportation market more efficient.

Image courtesy Flicker user Lensicle, but I added some black lines to it. Used under Creative Commons. 

PSA: Firefox is faster than Chrome and you should try it out

firefox_2017_logo

Firefox. I know. It’s probably been awhile since you heard someone refer to Firefox as their browser of choice. But their new Quantum browser is the browser built for 2017, as Wired put it recently.

Why?

  1. Good battery conservation
  2. It’s faster
  3. Great built-in privacy measures

More from Wired:

The new Firefox actually manages to evolve the entire browser experience, recognizing the multi-device, ultra-mobile lives we all lead and building a browser that plays along. It’s a browser built with privacy in mind, automatically stopping invisible trackers and making your history available to you and no one else. It’s better than Chrome, faster than Chrome, smarter than Chrome. It’s my new go-to browser.

I’ve never been a Chrome guy. It’s ugly, drains my battery, and is made by Google—not a company that aligns with many of the things I care about (see here and here).

Safari is good, and I like how it syncs tabs and passwords across devices. But it’s sometimes noticeably slow and incompatible with ~2% of websites I visit. Not a huge number, but enough to be annoying.

I’ve been using Quantum for a couple months now, and encourage you to check it out. It’s available for Mac, Windows, PC, iOS, and probably others. It supports cross-device syncing, although you can’t set it as your default browser thanks to an annoying iOS limitation.

Facebook lets companies target job ads by age. Is that really so bad?

Young professional

The New York Times and ProPublica released a story a couple weeks ago detailing the extent to which employers can target their recruiting ads on Facebook.

Here’s the lede:

A few weeks ago, Verizon placed an ad on Facebook to recruit applicants for a unit focused on financial planning and analysis. The ad showed a smiling, millennial-aged woman seated at a computer and promised that new hires could look forward to a rewarding career in which they would be “more than just a number.”

Some relevant numbers were not immediately evident. The promotion was set to run on the Facebook feeds of users 25 to 36 years old who lived in the nation’s capital, or had recently visited there, and had demonstrated an interest in finance. For a vast majority of the hundreds of millions of people who check Facebook every day, the ad did not exist.

Setting aside the issue of legality (age-based ad targeting may violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the article notes), I’m struggling to see how this is a necessarily bad thing. After all, if a recruiter is biased against older workers, they’re not likely to hire them once they infer their age based on their resume. Many hiring managers have a range of expected ages for a given position based on the required experience, the age range of others on the team, etc. I’m not arguing that this is a good thing. Everyone deserves a fair shake, no matter how old you are. But blaming Facebook for this existing human bias doesn’t advance the cause either.

Further, the issue at hand is only that the companies are advertising open positions to people in certain age ranges. Many companies require all open positions to be posted on the careers page; and the majority of such positions also appear on job boards such as indeed.com. It’s not as though the jobs are being hidden from people; rather, certain people aren’t being actively targeted.

Of course this is easy for a 30-something well-versed in technology to say. But the outrage over this issue robs job seekers of their agency and gives Facebook too much credit. If your idea of a job search is to browse your Facebook Feed for ads from companies who want to recruit you, I don’t think you’re going to have much luck. It’s far more effective to seek out companies and career opportunities that match your objectives than waiting for them to come for you via Facebook ads.

Image via Flickr.